Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board

Superintendent's Report
November 20, 2007

Mr. Chairman, before I begin highlighting the numerous accolades and recent special events that have occurred,
I would like to speak briefly about a service that we are very pleased to provide for our high school students who plan on taking SAT tests. The division has invested in SAT Online, an SAT practice opportunity that is personalized, comprehensive, and available 24 hours a day from any computer that has internet access. SAT Online was created by the College Board, the developers of the SAT test itself. In the very near future we will be sending an informational letter and flier to parents of all of our eleventh- and twelfth-grade students to inform them of SAT Online and how to obtain an access code to take advantage of this new, free service. While our concentration is understandably on juniors and seniors, any enterprising sophomore or freshman who wants to get an early start can participate as well.
I would counsel those students to inquire at their guidance offices. We are pleased to offer this superb service, because we believe it will help students understand what to expect on the high stakes SAT, resulting in a comfort level that will enhance their chances for success.

Along the lines of knowing what to expect, VBCPS recently sponsored two events designed to offer students and their parents information about high school academy programs and advanced academic programs as well as colleges and universities and other postsecondary opportunities.

The first event was the division's annual Academies and Advanced Academic Programs Night which was held October 30 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Again this year approximately 2,000 eighth-grade students and their parents attended the half-hour program overview and the breakout sessions previewing each academy and advanced academic program. The Global Studies and World Languages Academy at Tallwood High; the Health Sciences Academy at Bayside High; the Legal Studies Academy at First Colonial; the Technology Academy at Landstown High; and the Performing Arts Academy at Salem High comprise the Academy Program, while the International Baccalaureate Program at Princess Anne High and the Mathematics and Science Academy at Ocean Lakes High comprise the advanced academic programs. For the first time at this event, Advanced Placement courses were highlighted as well. If anyone in the audience would like a video preview of any one of these programs, just go to the division website,, and follow the prompts. Each streaming video is about four minutes and provides a complete overview of the program.

The second event, also sponsored annually by VBCPS, was College Night. The event was hosted by Virginia Beach City Public Schools Office of Guidance Services and high school guidance departments at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Students and parents had an opportunity to meet and speak with over 170 college/university representatives as well as representatives from proprietary schools and the armed forces. In addition, two financial aid seminars were conducted by Dr. Pam Rambo, Director of the ACCESS College Foundation, a group dedicated to helping students, particularly those who may be the first in their families to attend college, navigate the college/university admissions and application process. This year, College Night for the first time had an international flavor. Karen Booth, Assistant Academic Registrar for Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln, United Kingdom, was also available to speak with students and parents who may be considering study abroad. Prior to the College Night event, Ms. Booth had an opportunity to visit Green Run and Tallwood high schools where she talked with students about the undergraduate programs that are offered at Bishop Grosseteste University which is located northeast of London.

Another much anticipated annual event, the Teacher of the Year dinner and celebration, was held October 17th, at the Wyndam Hotel at the beach. The evening was festive and a great opportunity to recognize and honor "the best of the best," our 83 individual teachers of the year as well as our four finalists – Tracy Coffin, Dawn E. Garvey, Virginia O'Malley, and Deborah Price – and the Citywide Teacher of the Year, Erika Hitchcock. The event was a stellar opportunity to showcase these dedicated teachers who do so much every day to shape the lives of our young people and whose influence will be felt not only now, but long into the future.

Several other events sponsored by VBCPS deserve mention.

The official groundbreaking for the Renaissance Academy was held October 17 and more than 125 people watched as members of the School Board, school administration, the mayor, and students broke ground for this remarkable structure. As you may know, the Renaissance Academy will serve as VBCPS' new alternative education center, designed for students in grades six through twelve who are now housed in various facilities across the city. This project is unique in Virginia Beach in that it is slated to achieve a LEED Silver rating through the United States Green Building Council, one of only 60 schools in the entire country to have such a rating. As you may know, LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and recognizes achievements and promotes expertise in "green building" to include features such as sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The building is slated for completion in 2010.

Another memorable and very popular event recently held was the annual Brain Conference, jointly sponsored by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction- and the Office of Organizational Development. The event took place on Saturday, October 27, at Landstown High School and was free of charge to all participants. More than 350 teachers and administrators attended, taking advantage of the valuable opportunity to hear several nationally recognized educators and researchers present the latest brain research relating to education and teaching and learning. According to attendees and organizers alike, Brain Conference 2007 was a resounding success!

Several of our schools have celebrated special events as well.

For example, the Technical and Career Education Center commemorated Hispanic Heritage Month with a fiesta, held Monday, October 15th. Culinary arts students prepared the food while legal systems administration and English as a second language students (ESL) worked together to plan and organize the program.

Another event put on by Tech Center students involved construction technology students "raising the roof" for Hope Haven Children's and Retirement Home on Saturday, October 20, at 8:30 a.m. Actually students and volunteers raised the frame of the storage building they constructed for Hope Haven as an ongoing class project. The pre-constructed frame was then transported from the Tech Center to Hope Haven and assembled on site. This project was made possible by the Tech Center's Partner in Education, Lowe's, through an educational grant the company provided to fund a community service project. The Tech Center is one of only 10 sites in the nation to participate in the initiative which was administered by SkillsUSA, a national organization of students enrolled in trade and industrial education classes, teachers, and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled work force.

Tech Center students from Dental Assisting I & II classes also volunteered their services recently. On Friday, October 26, as part of "Operation Blessing," students joined area dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants in a community-outreach/volunteer effort to provide dental services and procedures to local citizens in need. Dental care is essential to patients' overall health and wellbeing and Tech Center Dental Assisting students benefited tremendously not only from the hands-on technical experience of working side-by-side with professionals but also through this opportunity to "give back" to the community in such an important way.

Several congratulations are in order this evening:

Congratulations to Birdneck, Lynnhaven, Point O'View, Hermitage, John B. Dey, and Arrowhead elementary schools! They have been cited for the success of their parent involvement initiatives in the 2007 Promising Partnership Practices publication from the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS). This volume is published annually to highlight best practices in parent involvement in NNPS schools across the country. In addition, the division's Military Welcome Packet was included as being representative of an outstanding divisionwide effort to engage military families. The National Network of Partnership Schools is dedicated to supporting and enhancing parent and family involvement through innovative strategies to engage all parents. Congratulations to these schools for their outstanding support of parent involvement!

Congratulations are in order also for two Salem High School teachers, chemistry teacher Elizabeth Dupont and art teacher Erin Balch. Both are first-year teachers and both were recently recognized as Meritorious New Teachers at a celebratory dinner at Old Dominion University. Elizabeth and Erin represent an extremely select group. Only 165 out of a pool of 3,000 first-year teachers in Virginia have been recognized as Meritorious New Teacher Candidates. As a point of information, the Meritorious New Teacher Candidate (MNTC) designation is an initiative of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Teachers Project, which is designed to recognize and reward exceptionally well-prepared new teachers. Similar to National Board Certification, this designation is one of professional accomplishment for prospective teachers who excelled at every phase of preparation and demonstrated a deep commitment to high expectations for all children.

Congratulations also to Janene Gorham, instructional technology coordinator in the Department of Technology. She was selected as one of the National School Boards Association's "20 to Watch" educators for 2007. This special recognition was launched as one of the twentieth anniversary events at last year's T&L (Technology and Learning) Conference to identify emerging leaders who will be helping to shape the world of education technology for the next 20 years. The 20 educators identified in the search range from classroom teachers and technology directors to a superintendent and a nonprofit foundation leader. Janene was presented with a certificate in recognition of this honor at the T&L Conference held in October in Nashville.

Another noteworthy award was recently presented to Joanne D'Agostino, principal of Luxford Elementary School. She was selected by the Consortium for Infant and Child Health (CINCH) to receive a Hampton Roads Child Health Advocacy Award at the individual level. Ms. D'Agostino was cited as being a School Health Advocate in recognition of her work in promoting student fitness through an array of initiatives, activities, and events at Luxford. Among the exemplary initiatives are establishing the first Final Kick Sports running club, serving as the original pilot school for the Shamrock Final Mile Program, building the Dragon Fitness (running/walking) Trail, and receiving numerous grants for fitness programs from such organizations as the Virginia Beach Schools Education Foundation, the Virginia PTA, and Lowe's. Congratulations, Ms. D'Agostino!

And an interesting example of how an individual school is supporting Goal 5 of the School Board Program of Work – which, as you may recall, focuses on raising the learning and achievement levels of African American males – can be found in a new initiative unveiled by Lynnhaven Elementary School. As a kickoff for American Education Week, November 11 – 17, Lynnhaven Elementary sponsored an African American Male Breakfast during which attendees worked together, sharing strategies and ideas, to create a plan for assisting the school's African American male students, academically and personally. The men attending the breakfast have already signed up to be mentors, pledging to "make a difference" for the young men with whom they will be working. Actually, they are already making a difference through their participation in such a worthwhile endeavor. We thank them for their support!

Virginia Beach Schools also thanks its veterans! As you know, Veterans Day was celebrated a week ago Monday. What you may NOT know is that Virginia Beach schools honored our veterans with special morning announcements designed to teach and remind students of the significance of the day. And, in some cases, schools held special ceremonies to commemorate the occasion. Among them were Creeds Elementary, which performed a salute to veterans via their morning flag-raising ceremony, and White Oaks Elementary, where second-grade students in Mrs. White's class made cards for recovering soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. At Hermitage Elementary, students created a Veterans' Wall of Fame, but with a personal touch. Using photos of parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters who were or are members of the armed forces, students created posters and write-ups describing and honoring their relatives' service. Certainly a personal and memorable way to celebrate Veterans Day!

One final note from the world of sports! As you may know, the football team from Salem High School will play in the Eastern Region championship game this Friday night. The undefeated SunDevils will face the undefeated Tigers from Chesapeake's Oscar Smith High School. Knowing that many families will be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, VBTV has made arrangements to air the football game in its entirety, this Sunday at 3:00 p.m. on cable channel 47. We all certainly wish the SunDevils the best of luck!

Mr. Chairman, this concludes the Superintendent's Report for this evening.

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Last Modified on Wednesday, July 22, 2015
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